2012 Fitness Challenge: Happy Action Theater

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Last December, I challenged myself to use the Kinect to help improve my health. But my goal isn't to blandly recount how workout software actually does its job. I'm out to prove that the real key to losing weight is having fun while attempting to do it, and video games are the perfect tool.

I decided to write this column once every two months, so I had more time to find Kinect stuff and take in any changes in my appearance. With the big Bitmob changeover happening soon, I'm not sure where this article will eventually end up. But I am dedicated to finishing this year healthier than I started it. Double Fine's Happy Action Theater is my latest attempt to blur the lines between fitness and fun. 

Happy Action Theater is a collection of Kinect minigames with an emphasis on playing around rather than winning. Up to six people can be on screen at a time, making it a wonderful thing to have running during parties, no matter the age group. I imagine the funkier, more psychedelic activities would be a hit when all your guests have had a little to drink.

I like turning on the Director mode which cycles through the various activities at random. HAT is most enjoyable when you don't know what's coming. It's difficult to describe the minigames effectively, however. At any time you could be attacked by a swarm of pigeons or diving into a pool of steadily rising lava. When the object is interaction over completion, the whole gaming structure changes. Double Fine approached this project with the desire to make something quirky and weird, and they definitely succeeded.


My workout routine is an hour almost every day. Working full-time and going to school keeps me on my feet or buried in books, so I don't have much room to use a structured program like Your Shape: Fitness Evolved most of the time. My alternative is 30 minutes of Fruit Ninja Kinect and then 30 minutes playing around with Happy Action Theater.


Like Fruit Ninja, I'm not really aware of how much I'm moving while playing HAT until a few hours later when every part of my body aches. When I played it with other people, I finally realized how much manic flailing, crouching, and punching we were doing. You can get a full cardio workout by breaking out of an ice cocoon or playing an off-beat version of Breakout.

Happy Action Theater is likely going to stay in my workout rotation for the rest of the year. It's a silly way to cool off after a more grueling session.

Weight loss so far: 8 pounds

Games played: 4

Months to go: 10

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